This post explains the football term ‘to track back’, which is used to describe when a forward player goes back into defence to help their own side. Find out more about this phrase by reading the transcript below and you can also find many more examples of soccer vocabulary by going to our football cliches page here and our huge football glossary here.

Football Language: To track back

track back
This week we will look at the verb phrase to track back. This is used when an attacking player follows an opponent back and tries to tackle them, or to stop them getting the ball. It’s especially used for wingers, wide players, or midfielders – players who are not defenders but should do some defensive work. This week in the Champion’s League, Manchester City were hosted by Celtic, and Raheem Sterling, a front man for Man City did a good job tracking back, but unfortunately as he tried to block a shot from Moussa Dembele, the ball came off him and ended in an own goal.

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  • Example: Mesut Özil doesn’t track back but he wins possession more than you’d think (, December 21st 2016)
  • Example: Damon often complained that his midfield team mates did not track back enough meaning he had little or no protection against the opposition forwards.

If you have any ideas on some football phrases for our site, let us know by emailing us at Check out our glossary of footballing phrases here.

Learn English Through Football
Learn English Through Football

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Football GlossaryEpisode 653